Looking for Bigger Rocks

March 11, 2013

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

Douglas Adams would be 61 today. And still, I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle. Today's Google Doodle brilliantly honors Adams. Keep clicking the Guide to see really great little animations. (Notably, the Guide in the image looks a lot like a second-generation Kindle.) Here's a permalink to the doodle.

Rob Boston takes to AlterNet to showcase five young people doing battle with anti-science forces in their public schools.  

AFP: Over 100 homes of Christians are burned in Lahore, Pakistan by a mob of over 3000, following allegedly blasphemous remarks from a young Christian. 

Lawrence Krauss threatens to walk out of a debate at University College London when he discovers that single women were told to sit at the back of the venue, and not allowed to sit with men and couples. 

Kerry Howley at BookForum gives us an old-school rap battle between Joel Osteen and Arthur Schopenhauer using their actual words. And I was kidding about the rapping part, but I suppose it could be read to a sampled beat.

Jason Torpy lauds CFI's report on fundamentalism in the military (complete with a super-cool graphic):

The Center For Inquiry has made a great step forward in publishing this new position paper against evangelism in the military. The recommendations are sound and should support the ongoing diversity-of-belief and anti-evangelism reform efforts of organizations like MAAF, MRFF, the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy, and, well, precious few others.   

One of my favorite authors, Jennifer Michael Hecht, reviews Susan Jacoby's Ingersoll book for the New York Times. That's double-cool, because I actually read Hecht's Doubt immediately followed by Jacoby's Freethinkers. Well, it's cool to me, anyway. 

Six-year-old girl in Nigeria is tortured by her father because a "prophetess" called her a witch. 

Speaking of torture, Emily Willingham reports that the UN special rapporteur on torture is calling out "shock therapy" for autism as a form of torture.

Raw Story: San Juan, PR cop sues the police force for demoting him because he wouldn't take part in compulsory prayers. (The accompanying image to this article convinces me that Shutterstock really has thought of everything.) 

Carl Franzen writes at The Verge about the new science education standards that include climate change, and the uphill battle to get states to adopt them. 

Relatedly, from The Atlantic: Evangelical homeschooling parents begin to teach their kids actual science.  

Brian Dunning: No really, aspartame won't kill you. (I always read "aspartame" and think it begs for a more Romance language pronunciation; not "ASS-per-tame" but "ahs-PART-ah-may!")

George Dvorsky at io9 on the Anthropic Principle: "It's a principle that makes perfect sense — and for some, no sense at all." 

Folks who want to take part in Skeptics in the Pub with CFI-Michigan can go straight to Hell. Hell, Michigan. (Question for Mitt Romney: Are the trees the right height in Hell, Michigan? Or are they all distorted with their root systems screwing up sidewalks?)

Remember the hunt in Russia for that "Loch Ness Monster" type creature that uncovered a whole new kind of creature? No it didn't.

Here's a thing: A study about video games and atheists.  

Dawkins has a memoir coming out

Secular News Daily gets scooped up by the Secular Coalition for America. I feel somewhat threatened.

Ben Radford takes on Russell Crowe!!!! Well, his UFO video anyway.  

No wait, Ben Radford takes on the Wizard of Oz!!!!!! Well, James Franco, anyway:

James Franco is simply not up to the task as an actor; he exudes-and has only rarely been able to adequately overcome-a certain frat-boy smarm. We are reminded repeatedly that this is a morality tale-that the initially irascible Oz will be redeemed in the end, finding the goodness buried deep within, and all that trite shit-but we don't see it in Franco's performance. 

Fraud psychic escapes formal charges by agreeing to give defrauded client a big refund

That big Bible "docu-drama" on the History Channel was really long. Life is short. Here's a 10 minute version (NSFW) from Cult of Dusty. Of the movie, not life. That'd be crazy. Also:

The History Channel is to history what Dr. Pepper is to doctors. 

Traditional Chinese medicine schools seek official-ness in Canada.

Damon Linker wants atheists to admit that a universe without God, even if true, would suck:

If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we're alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter, that we face certain annihilation in death, that our sufferings are ultimately pointless, that our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense, that those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free — all of this (and much more) is utterly tragic. Honest atheists understand this.

Oh no. Yahoo News calls anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy a celebrity who "makes the world a better place." 

UK's "Sunday Assembly" atheist church is set to spread worldwide

South Dakota church invites nonbelievers in as members do atheism for Lent

Unreasonable Faith points us to a decades-old discussion between Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clarke, and Stephen Hawkin. Yowza. 

Cardinal Dolan is, like, the Justin Beiber of the Catholic hierarchy.

A minute-fifteen of proto-human evolution

Quote of the Day 

Andrew Sullivan on the Conference of Bishops' (aka the Legion of Doom) opposition to the Violence Against Women Act because it's nice to LGBT folks:

So protecting lesbians and transgender and bisexual women from violence is now something Christians should oppose? The most vulnerable are somehow the least defensible? Do these bishops have even basic comprehension of the Gospels they read out loud every Sunday? Instead of preventing the stoning of an adulteress, as Jesus did, they would have gone looking for bigger rocks.   

* * *  

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)centerforinquiry.net! 

The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta